Boer War Page 37

Battle Prints During the Boer War 1


Lillian Rosedale Goodman (1887-1982) and Vivian Holt: "Abide With Me" 1920

You are listening to a wonderful treat, an early Canadian recording, "Abide With Me," sung by Lillian Rosedale Goodman and Vivian Holt, and recorded in Montreal, Quebec, about 1920. Abide With Me was probably the British Army's most sung hymn at countless Church Parades during the war in South Africa.


Paardeberg - Feb. 18 - 27, 1899 For the Canadians, the 10 day long Battle of Paardeberg has always been the highlight of the Boer War.

More Canadians died there than in any other battle of the war, including (below), Capt. Arnold from Winnipeg (and his grave). And the Canadians were also in the front line trenches on the final assault that led to the Boer surrender on Feb. 27, 1900.

The Bacon print (left) recognized the Canadian achievement by titling the battle in their honour, the "Dashing Advance of the Canadians at Paardeberg." (Found in Port Hope, ON)

The print shows the laager of massed wagons in the background, where some 5,000 Boers defend themselves with an arc of riflemen on a bend in the Modder River, while from every side the British army attacks.

(left) The Toronto Globe issued its own print of the Battle of Paardeberg, showing the Canadian lines during the assault. (Found in Cookstown, ON)

In the background the Boer wagons are on fire in the laager. In the foreground, mules bringing up the ammunition and men are falling (below).

In the midst of all the carnage, a calm and clearly recognizable Colonel Otter (below left) turns his back on the bullets whizzing in from the Boer lines, as he rallies his men.

31 Canadians died at Paardeberg - Canada's heaviest battlefield losses in 100 years. They lie at rest today in this remote cemetery (right).

Victorian Heroes

To bring the pathos of war into the parlours of Canadians, the Continental Publishing Co. of Toronto, ON, issued the lithograph (top), called "Hit." It shows a gallant trooper of Canada's Second Contingent in the moment that death finds him. (Found in Port Hope, ON.)

Some 7,000 Canadians served in the South African War. Some 300 never returned and lie today in lonely African graves.

Early battles - especially British defeats, were gleefully published by a hostile European press. This 16 x 20" litho of the Battle of Colenso, an early disastrous British defeat (below), was published in Germany. (Found in Belleville, ON)

It shows the high point of the battle, the retreat of the British during a disastrous attempt to keep their guns from falling into the hands of the Boers.

In one of the more celebrated tragedies of the war, Lord Roberts, VC, the new British commander-in-chief (below), lost his only son Freddy (below left), during the valiant attempt to rescue the guns. After scores of horses and dozens of men were shot down, General Buller called off the attempt.

Losing a gun (artillery piece) to the enemy was universally regarded, in Victorian times, as the worst humiliation an army can suffer. At Colenso the British lost 10 of their 12 guns to the Boers, a shame of gigantic proportions. Buller was relieved of command.

In the morning Lord Roberts was notified that he would replace Buller and become the new commander in South Africa, fulfilling his fondest wish.

In the afternoon, he was informed his only son, Freddy, was gallantly slain at Colenso.

Cigarette cards, inserted free into packs of smokes, capitalized on Freddy's fame by publishing his image, hoping to ride his tide of posthumous popularity on to a wave of increased sales.


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000